Employing her trademark aesthetic, Isadora sets Moore's classic poem in Africa—her Santa Claus wears bright leopard-print pants and has gray dreadlocks. Mama's “kerchief” is a pink floral do-rag and the narrator is dressed in African attire, as he springs from bed to see the silhouette of Santa's sleigh (the reindeer are adorned with decorative beads) race across the sparse, snowy terrain. The gifts Santa pulls from his bag include a sock monkey, a zebra and three colorful dolls. The dynamic visuals offer a refreshing and original vision of this familiar verse. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
The vibrant spreads are lively...Children will enjoy poring over the details in repeated readings.
[B]eautifully evoke[s] the familiarity of Christmas holiday traditions within a distinctly nontraditional setting.
Children's Literature - Carlee Hallman
In this traditional Christmas poem, the pictures show Santa driving a space ship, although he still has reindeer. The dashboard of the sleigh has various dials that read: NITROUS GAMA E-INJECT, CONTINENT, HOT CHOCOLATE, and SPACE COMPRESS. In the illustration for "He was dressed all in fur," Santa wears white furry trousers. Various elves carry a plastic tape dispenser, dog milk bone, an origami stork, and use a vacuum cleaner. The artist has an interview with St. Nick in which the question of how Santa is able to distribute all the presents in one night is answered, "the sleigh is able to expand the moment between ‘tick' and ‘tock' on Christmas Eve." Children and their parents will enjoy the artist's humorous interpretation of this old favorite.
Children's Literature - Della A. Yannuzzi
The book isn't new, but the illustrations are. Clement C. Moore's classic book describing Santa's night visit delivering toys to good boys and girls is as delightful today as it was when first published in the 1800s. The rhymes, descriptive words, the reindeer with endearing names and Santa's helpers hurrying to finish the toys in time for delivery still delight young readers and adults alike. The description of Santa will linger in a child's mind as he waits for sleep. His eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow. It is a story that never grows old, but seems quite new through an illustrator's creative rendition. Illustrator Watson has done a wonderful job interpreting Moore's The Night Before Christmas. The drawings are clear, crisp and life-like. The colors are vivid and sharp and pleasing to the eye. The pictures jump out at the reader; they are so full of action. And Santa's 21st century sleigh is an up-to-date marvel that not only delivers toys, but at the touch of a button will serve up a cup of hot chocolate, espresso and milk for a weary Santa Claus. The elves in the front and back of the book are charming, whimsical visions of wonder. Lastly, the book cover is a close-up rendering of a jolly, red-cheeked, bearded Santa wearing flying goggles and headgear. "The Night Before Christmas" is a lovely tale, but Watson's illustrations are a feast for the eyes. Back material includes a clever Q & A two-pager between St. Nick and Watson. Reviewer: Della A. Yannuzzi
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3–Santa’s Christmas Eve journey takes him to Africa in this charming version of the poem. Isadora uses collaged papers and oil paints to create a vibrant African village, dusted by snow. The tiny house barely supports the sleigh, and Santa (with zebra fur on his jacket, leopard-spotted pants, and a vibrant Kente-cloth belt) comes down the wood stove’s chimney, leaving traditional African presents for the slumbering children. Full of details, rich color, and an exuberant spirit, this book will provide opportunities for discussion as well as a new cultural landscape for the “right jolly old elf.”–Anne Connor, Los Angeles Public Library
Read an Excerpt
'Twas the night before Christmas,
when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung
by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas
soon would be there.